International Current Affairs 2018

June 17: World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCDD) is observed every year on June 17 across to world to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. The day aims to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and co-operation at all levels. The 2018 Theme of WDCDD is “Land has true value – invest in it.” It urges to move away from unsustainable land use and make a difference by investing in the future of land. The global observance  of WDCD2018 was hosted by Government of Ecuador.

Desertification

Desertification is degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations. It does not refer to the expansion of existing deserts. It occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one third of world‘s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all undermine the productivity of the land.

Background

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had designated June 17 as World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought in 1994 through resolution A/RES/49/115. It was observed for the first time in 1995. The date marks adaptation of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) by UNGA in 1994. The day is observed globally to promote public awareness on the issue, and implementation of UNCCD in those countries experiencing serious desertification or drought, particularly in Africa.

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

UNCCD was adopted in June 17, 1994 and entered into force 1996. It is only legally binding international agreement to address problem of desertification and other land issues. It seeks to address desertification and land issues specifically arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as drylands.

The convention promotes good land stewardship and its end goal is to protect land from over-use and drought, so it can continue to provide food, water and energy. Its 195 parties work together to improve living conditions for people in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought.

UNCCD is particularly committed to bottom-up approach, encouraging participation of local people in combating desertification and land degradation. Its secretariat facilitates cooperation between developed and developing countries, particularly around technology and knowledge transfer for sustainable land management.

UNCCD collaborates closely with other two Rio Conventions, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and United UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as dynamics of land, climate and biodiversity are intimately connected to meet these complex challenges with integrated approach.

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NSG plenary meeting held in Jurmala, Latvia

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) plenary meeting took place on in Jurmala, Latvia after Latvia assumed chairmanship of NSG for 2018-19. With this, Latvia became first Baltic state to chair the NSG. There was no headway in India’s application for NSG entry in this plenary meeting. India had applied for NSG membership at 2016 Seoul plenary session, but it was objected by few member countries of NSG including China.

Key Highlights of meeting

Participation Non-NPT States: NSG member states continued discussions on issue of technical, legal and political aspects of participation Non-NPT States of in NSG initiated at its 2016 Seoul plenary. There was no headway this time for considering India’s membership despite thaw in relationship with China. There was no specific reference to Pakistan’s application to the NSG.

Waiver to India: NSG continues to consider all aspects of implementation of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India (or NSG waiver for India) and discussed NSG relationship with India.

On North Korea: Participating Governments of NSG reconfirmed their commitment to UN Security Council resolutions 2371 (2017), 2375 (2017), 2397 (2017) and previous relevant UNSC resolutions, which reaffirm that North Korea will immediately abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes in complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. They noted that supply of all controlled items to North Korea is prohibited according to above resolutions. They noted with encouragement the recent Inter-Korean summits and North Korea-US summit.

On Iran: They acknowledged continued implementation of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and Iran by E3/EU+2 (United Kingdom, France, Germany + Russia, China) and Iran. JCPOA is nuclear deal between P-5 (US, UK, Russia. China, France) + 1 (Germany) and Iran.

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

NSG is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be used for development of nuclear weapons.  It was set up in 1974 as a reaction to India’s first successful nuclear tests (code name Smiling Buddha conducted on 18 May 1974) to stop so called misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes. Currently, NSG has 48 members.

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